The Corner

Law & the Courts

Mike Bloomberg’s Uninformed, Contradictory Rhetoric on Guns

Michael Bloomberg speaks about his gun policy agenda in Aurora, Colo., December 5, 2019. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Mike Bloomberg, speaking January 3 about the shooting in the West Freeway Church: “Somebody in the congregation had their own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it is the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.

In a speech spotlighted on the Bloomberg campaign’s social media yesterday, the former mayor declares, “Nobody wants to take away anybody’s gun. It’s protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The courts have ruled that you can have reasonable restrictions like background checks. Nobody, including NRA members when you poll, thinks that we should be selling guns to minors, to people with psychiatric problems, or people with criminal records. Something’s got to be done.”

Urgh. First, to legally purchase a firearm, licensed firearms dealers already run every potential purchaser through a background check, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. As long as everyone in law enforcement enters the criminal records correctly, the felon is flagged and barred from making the purchase.* Second, under federal law, dealers may not sell a handgun to anyone they know or believe to be below 21, and any long gun (rifle or shotgun) to anyone under the age of 18. A handful of states allow the purchase of a long gun at age 16 or above with a parent’s permission. Also, under federal law, no one is allowed to purchase a gun if a court or other authority has deemed them a “mental defective” or committed them involuntarily to a mental hospital. Most states have additional conditions where a person’s psychiatric record can bar them from purchasing a gun.

Secondly, these two statements are inherently contradictory. You cannot say that the Second Amendment protects private gun ownership and simultaneously believe that average citizens should not be allowed either open carry or concealed carry in public places.

*The Charleston church shooter and the Sutherland Springs church shooter were able to purchase firearms because their previous convictions were not properly recorded in the NICS system.

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